Unfulfilled Dreams

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We all have hopes and dreams.  We all go through times in our lives when we come up with ideas of things that we would like to accomplish in life, places we would like to be in the years ahead.  It's a natural human tendency, it seems, to come up with an ideal that we would like to fulfill in our futures.

But what happens when the years go by and those dreams never come to fruition?  What happens when we find ourselves, years later, in a situation that's so far removed from our ideal that we can only think that we've somehow failed, that we haven't accomplished our life's desire? It can be a very devastating experience.  A friend wrote me the following lines:

"Well, at 40 I'm losing hope that this dream will ever come true, and sometimes I would get upset at God for not helping me to make this happen. So this has been a great impediment in my living a full life.  Sometimes I'm unable to be happy in the moment because of these unfulfilled dreams.  It's those 'why couldn't it have been?', 'why didn't it happen for me?' times that rob me of my joy for today.  And as much as I know and have read that real peace is internal, I also know for me, that the environment where I spend my time makes a difference."


I try to focus on the fact that I trust God to put me where I'm most effective, where I can do the most good, and where I can learn the most.

Getting through the hard times has been much more beneficial to me in the long run than having an idyllic life would have been.  I've learned more about what I truly want out of life through the painful experiences in places I didn't necessarily want to be than I have in times when everything's been fine.

I suppose that the bottom line is that all of our dreams are available to us if we're willing to take risks and make sacrifices.  Can't afford that summer vacation that you dream of?  Where can you make sacrifices? Going out less? Renting fewer movies?  Ordering fewer pizzas?  Do you wish you lived somewhere else?  Find out what it would take to move there, and go.  The most important thing to consider, though, is your current situation and where you see yourself going if you stay in it.  If you see yourself developing very little in or getting very little from your current situation, maybe it's time you examined those dreams of yours to see where they may be directing you.  We've been given dreams for a reason, and much of that reason is to give us something to strive for.

Let your heart guide you--if it tells you to stay, that's where you're supposed to be, and make the most of it.  If it tells you to go, then take the risk and make the most of that.  If faith in God is part of your life, ask Him for guidance, then listen for the answer; and whatever that answer may be, follow it, for you will be taken care of.


Someone once said to me, "Reverend Schuller, I hope you live
to see all your dreams fulfilled."  I replied, "I hope not, because
if I live and all my dreams are fulfilled, I'm dead."
It is unfulfilled dreams that keep you alive.

Robert Schuller



The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies
in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled,
but it is a calamity not to dream. . . . It is not
a disgrace not to reach the stars,
but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.

Benjamin Elijah

So many of us in life start out building temples: temples of character, temples
of justice, temples of peace. And so often we don’t finish them. Because life is
like Schubert’s "Unfinished Symphony." At so many points we start, we try,
we set out to build our various temples. And I guess one of the great agonies
of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.
We are commanded to do that. And so we, like David, find ourselves in so
many instances having to face the fact that our dreams are not fulfilled. . . .
let us notice first that life is a continual story of shattered dreams.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


I've dreamed many dreams that never came true.
I've seen them vanish at dawn.
But I've realized enough of my dreams, thank the Lord,
To make me want to dream on.

I've prayed many prayers when no answer came,
Though I've waited patient and long,
But answers have come to enough of my prayers
To make me keep praying on.

Ron DeMarco
from "I've Dreamed Many Dreams"


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Cemeteries are full of unfulfilled dreams. . . countless echoes of "could
have" and "should have". . . countless books unwritten. . . countless songs
unsung. . . I want to live my life in such a way that when my body is laid
to rest, it will be a well needed rest from a life well lived, a song well sung,
a book well written, opportunities well explored, and a love well expressed.

Steve Maraboli

The longer you wait, the louder and more vicious your unfulfilled
dreams will become. They eat away at your mind, your soul, and
your heart. They stalk you and are there at every turn in life asking
you “what if?” and force you to ponder about what could have
been, what you should have done, and what you could do
if you could go back in time.
Your unfulfilled dreams won’t be unforgiving, not even when
you’re on your death bed. They’re not giving up on you for
giving up on them. They’re getting their revenge.
To prevent yourself from becoming haunted by your unfulfilled
dreams, you already know what to do. Turn dreams into goals.
Don’t wait. Don’t contrive excuses for yourself. Use the words
of naysayers against them to prove them wrong. Work hard.
And don’t setting for anything less than your best.

Andrew Galasetti


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

Unfulfilled dreams only become unnecessary regrets.

Andrew Oye

I dare to dream greatly; I dare to fail greatly.  I dare to tolerate the
ashes of my unfulfilled dreams, for I may dream again.  I dare  not
tolerate the ashes of my unfulfilled life, for I may never live again.


When we can resign ourselves to the wishes that will never
come true, there can be enormous energies available within
us for whatever we can do.  I know a woman who remembers
the time when her wish to have children would not be realized.
She remembers the struggle of the final resignation, and then
she remembers the outcome of that resignation.  Enormous
energies were available to her, which she used in developing
uniquely creative work with young parents.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers